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steps to resilience in midlife for women after 50

By Shelby Leith

In a world where change is the only constant, resilience emerges as a crucial skill. Resilience is the art of bouncing back from life's challenges, and it's not just about enduring tough times; it's about adapting and growing through them. Women age 50 + are often the bedrock of families and communities and they face unique challenges. They juggle personal health concerns, societal changes, and often, the care of others while navigating their own life transitions. Today's global landscape, marked by a pandemic, economic shifts, and social changes, adds even more complexity to their lives. Recognizing and cultivating resilience is not just beneficial; it's essential. It empowers women to handle both global upheavals and personal crises with strength and grace. 

Understanding Resilience

Resilience is more than just enduring hardships; it is about adapting, learning, and growing despite the challenges. Resilience takes on a deeper significance for women in later life. It becomes a testament to their life's journey, reflecting both the strength and wisdom they have gained over the years.


Resilience is less about rapid recovery and more about the depth of inner strength. While young women may bounce back quickly, older women often draw on a reservoir of experiences. They tend to approach problems with a blend of patience and perspective that only comes with age. This maturity enables them to see beyond the immediate turmoil, offering a long-term view rooted in understanding and acceptance.

The concept of resilience in older age is beautifully captured by Tyler Perry's 'Tree analogy.' In this metaphor, people in our lives are likened to parts of a tree: leaves, branches, and roots.

  • Leaf People: These individuals are akin to leaves on a tree. They are transient, present only for a season. Recognizing leaf people becomes important as it helps in focusing emotional energy where it is most valued and conserved.

  • Branch People: These are stronger and more dependable than leaves, yet they may not withstand every storm. As one ages, it becomes crucial to identify branch people who offer support yet might not be the pillars one can lean on during the most challenging times.

  • Root People: The most significant of the three, these individuals are like the roots of a tree – vital, yet often unseen. They provide unwavering support and nourishment, essential for growth and survival.

Understanding this analogy is empowering. It helps women recognize the value of different relationships and where to focus their emotional energy. Root people are essential for resilience as they offer a stable support system. By nurturing these relationships and understanding the transient nature of leaf and branch people, women can strengthen their emotional resilience, ensuring they have a solid support network for all seasons of life.


Building Resilience Through Acceptance

Acceptance is a cornerstone of resilience, particularly for women age 50+ who face numerous changes and uncertainties. Embracing acceptance doesn't mean giving up or showing weakness; it means acknowledging reality and working within its bounds.


Life, especially in later years, is filled with transitions - retirement, loss of loved ones, health changes, and shifting social dynamics. Accepting these changes is crucial. It allows women to adapt, finding peace in the new normal rather than resisting what cannot be altered. Acceptance isn't instantaneous; it's a gradual process of coming to terms with reality, which is a critical step in fostering resilience.


One practical approach to acceptance is concentrating on what can be controlled. While many women may not have power over certain life events, they can control their responses. This might mean focusing on daily routines, engaging in meaningful activities, or seeking support when needed. By directing energy towards actionable aspects of their lives, they can maintain a sense of agency and purpose, essential components of resilience.


The Role of Relationships in Building Resilience

Relationships act as a buffer against stress. Having a network of supportive friends and family members can mean the difference between isolation and a fulfilling social life. These connections offer comfort, advice, and a different perspective on problems, helping to deal with feelings of loneliness and despair. In challenging times, knowing there are people who care can significantly boost morale and resilience.

Tips on Maintaining and Nurturing Supportive Relationships

  • Communication: Regularly reach out to friends and family. Whether it’s through phone calls, text messages, or social media, staying in touch keeps relationships strong.

  • Reciprocity: Be there for others as they are for you. Offering support to friends and family reinforces your bonds and builds a network of mutual aid.

  • Engagement in Social Activities: Participate in community events and join clubs or groups that interest you. These activities can foster new relationships and strengthen existing ones.

  • Empathy and Understanding: Show empathy and understanding in your interactions. Listen actively and offer compassion; these are key to deepening connections.

Identifying and Appreciating 'Root' People in One's Life

'Root' people are those who offer unwavering support and love. Identifying these individuals involves reflecting on who has been consistently present and supportive throughout various challenges. To appreciate and nurture these relationships:

  • Acknowledge their Importance: Let them know how much they mean to you. Express gratitude for their support.

  • Invest Time and Effort: Prioritize these relationships. Spend quality time with them and be there for them as they are for you.

  • Mutual Growth: Engage in activities that foster growth in your relationship. This could be learning a new skill together or sharing experiences.

Recognizing and valuing these key relationships provides a strong support system and enhances personal resilience. For mid-life women, these connections are not just a source of comfort; they are a foundation of strength and a testament to the enduring power of human bonds.

Self-Care and Wellness

Maintaining resilience is closely tied to self-care and wellness. Physical and mental health are fundamental in coping with life's challenges. Prioritizing self-care is not a luxury; it's a necessity for sustaining resilience.

Importance of Physical and Mental Health for Resilience

Good physical health sets the stage for mental and emotional strength. When women stay physically active and manage their health, they equip themselves with more energy and a clearer mind to tackle life's hurdles. Similarly, mental health is crucial. It influences how we perceive and handle stress, make decisions, and maintain relationships. Physical and mental wellness form the backbone of resilience, allowing for better management of stress and adversity.

Self-Care Practices Tailored for Women 50 and over:

  • Regular Exercise: Engage in physical activities suitable for your age and health condition. Activities like walking, yoga, or swimming can increase strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health.

  • Healthy Eating: A balanced diet rich in nutrients supports overall health. Focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

  • Adequate Sleep: Ensure you're getting enough rest. Quality sleep is crucial for physical repair and emotional equilibrium.

  • Mindfulness and Relaxation: Practices like meditation, deep breathing, or tai chi can reduce stress and improve mental clarity.

  • Regular Health Check-ups: Keep up with medical appointments to monitor and manage health conditions.

Balancing Emotional and Physical Well-Being

Creating a balance between emotional and physical health involves recognizing and attending to both aspects. It's about listening to your body and mind and responding to their needs. This might mean seeking social interaction when feeling lonely or resting when physically tired. It's important to acknowledge emotional states such as grief or anxiety and allow yourself time to process these feelings. Engaging in joyful and relaxed activities can also significantly contribute to this balance.


Incorporating these self-care practices into daily life boosts resilience and enhances overall quality of life. Regular self-care is a powerful tool for navigating the complexities of life with strength and vitality.

Finding Purpose and Meaning

Finding purpose and meaning in life is a key aspect of resilience. Engaging in activities that are meaningful not only enriches life but also provides a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction

Discovering and Engaging in Meaningful Activities

  • Reflect on Passions: Think back to activities you've always enjoyed or wanted to try. Retirement or reduced work hours can be an opportunity to pursue these interests.

  • Explore Community Involvement: Look into local clubs, groups, or classes that align with your interests. Whether it’s a book club, gardening group, or art class, these can offer both a sense of achievement and social interaction.

  • Consider Lifelong Learning: Many educational institutions offer courses for older adults. Learning a new language, taking up a history course, or engaging in creative writing can be intellectually stimulating and fulfilling.

The Power of Helping Others and Volunteering

Volunteering is a powerful way to find purpose. It not only contributes positively to the community but also provides a sense of belonging and self-worth. Consider:

  • Local Charities or Nonprofits: Many organizations need volunteers for various roles. Choose one that resonates with your values.

  • Mentoring: Sharing your life experiences and skills can be rewarding. Look for mentoring opportunities in your field of expertise or in community programs.

  • Supporting Others: Even informal volunteering, like helping a neighbor or supporting a friend, can be meaningful.

Pursuing Hobbies and Interests for Joy and Satisfaction

Engaging in hobbies and interests brings a sense of joy and satisfaction that is vital for mental health.

  • Creative Endeavors: Activities like painting, knitting, or gardening can be therapeutic and fulfilling.

  • Physical Activities: Pursuing sports or exercise appropriate to your ability and health can be both fun and beneficial for physical health.

  • Social Activities: Joining a dance class, a choir, or a walking group can combine the benefits of a hobby with social interaction.


Finding purpose and meaning in life is crucial for building resilience. This could mean rekindling old passions, volunteering, or exploring new interests. These activities not only bring joy and a sense of accomplishment but also help in creating a fulfilling and resilient life.

Staying Motivated and Hopeful

Maintaining motivation and a hopeful outlook is essential for resilience, especially as older women face various life challenges. Here are some practical techniques to foster positivity and motivation.

Techniques for Maintaining Motivation and a Positive Outlook:

  • Set Realistic Goals: Establish achievable, short-term goals. This could be as simple as completing a daily walk or reading a book. Achieving these goals can provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

  • Stay Organized: A structured routine can bring a sense of order and predictability. Plan your days, but also be flexible to accommodate unexpected changes.

  • Seek Inspiration: Find sources of inspiration, whether it's through uplifting books, motivational talks, or positive people. Surrounding yourself with positivity can boost your mood and outlook.

Celebrating Small Victories and Practicing Gratitude

  • Acknowledge Achievements: Celebrate even the smallest successes. This could be learning a new recipe, finishing a crossword puzzle, or helping a friend. Recognizing these moments can build confidence and motivation.

  • Keep a Gratitude Journal: Regularly jot down things you're thankful for. This practice can shift focus from problems to positives, fostering a grateful and optimistic mindset.

  • Share Your Successes: Share your accomplishments with friends or family. This not only reinforces your victories but also encourages a supportive and positive environment.

Coping Strategies for Challenging Times

  • Stay Connected: Lean on your support network. Talking with friends or loved ones about your challenges can provide relief and perspective.

  • Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself. Understand that it's okay to have off days and acknowledge your efforts rather than focusing on shortcomings.

  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Engage in practices like meditation or deep breathing exercises. These can reduce stress and help maintain a calm, positive mindset.

  • Seek Professional Help if Needed: Don't hesitate to seek help from a therapist or counselor if you're struggling to cope. Professional guidance can provide effective strategies for managing challenges.


Staying motivated and hopeful is a dynamic process. It involves setting achievable goals, celebrating small victories, and maintaining a grateful and positive perspective. By employing these strategies, they can navigate life's challenges with resilience and optimism.

Embracing Life's Journey

Resilience is about embracing change, nurturing strong relationships, caring for oneself, finding meaning in life, and staying hopeful. It's recognizing that challenges are part of life, but with resilience, these can be faced with strength and grace. Remember the 'Tree analogy' - strive to be a 'Root' person in others' lives, providing support and stability. As you navigate your journey, cherish your role as a source of strength for others, just as you value those who are your roots. Embrace each challenge as an opportunity for growth, knowing you have the resilience to thrive.

Shelby is a Registered Pharmacy Technician for over 18 years living in Whitby, Canada. She is a published writer who specializes in the field of medicine, health, nutrition and fitness. She enjoys expressing herself through words and often writes short, descriptive pieces, poetry or songs in her spare time.

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